From downtown Oakland, the Pittsburg Bay Point and Richmond trains leave in tandem at night. After reaching MacArthur, the lines diverge, the Richmond heading North through Berkeley, the Pittsburg Bay Point heading Northwest through Rockridge and the Caldecott Tunnel. I forget the number of times I caught the last train from the city, alone and sober, or drunk with Chris. We’d board the Pittsburg train at the Embarcadero, catching our breath from running to get to the platform before 12:25, when the last train left the station. Sometimes we missed it, like the time we ended up taking the overnight bus over the bay bridge, hanging out on the corner of Broadway and 12th for half an hour, waiting for a connection that didn’t end up saving us any time. A couple of cops had been patrolling the neighborhood, chasing off hookers and being berated by a homeless man.
When I first moved to Oakland, I tended to take the BART more often than the bus. I lived just under a mile away from MacArthur, on 34th and Market. Cal was about four miles away, and I walked there once, taking Telegraph, because the buses weren’t running on schedule. When I did take the train though, a half hour bus ride turned into a picturesque ten minute BART ride. The distance between MacArthur and Downtown Berkeley is covered by a section of elevated track between MacArthur and Ashby, from which you can see San Francisco and the Golden Gate to the left, and the Berkeley Hills to the right.
At Ashby, the train descends into the tunnel, a steep descent that feels more like a controlled fall into darkness. We are now just three minutes and one stop away from disembarking at our destination.